Missouri loses extended unemployment benefits; numbers up in Southeast Missouri

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The state's stabilizing economy isn't good news for everyone.

Missouri's declining unemployment rate now makes it ineligible to operate the Extended Benefit unemployment program.

The federally funded program ended Saturday, affecting 9,000 of the 112,000 Missourians currently receiving unemployment, according to the Missouri Department of Labor.

Meanwhile, Southeast Missouri's unemployment rate is ticking up.

In most Southeast Missouri counties, unemployment rates rose a full point from January to February.

Bruce Domazlicky, director of the Center for Economic and Business Research at Southeast Missouri State University, warns not to put too much stock in a one-month change in employment.

"There is so much noise in month-to-month estimates of employment and unemployment at the local and even the state levels due to measurement errors and seasonal factors," he said. "I think the best approach is to wait and see what the next couple of months have to offer before we can identify anything approaching a trend."

There were no significant layoffs in Cape Girardeau County in February, said John Mehner, president and CEO of the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce.

"I strongly believe this is a seasonal issue," he said. Many stores that hired additional workers to handle the holiday rush may have resized their staffs, he said.

In Cape Girardeau County, unemployment went from 6.1 percent in January to 7 percent in February.

Statewide unemployment dropped from 7.5 percent in January to 7.4 percent in February, its lowest point in 38 months. The figure peaked at 9.7 percent in August 2009.

For those who have exhausted regular state and all four tiers of the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program enacted by Congress in 2008, Extended Benefits is the last level of unemployment benefits they may receive. The state provides up to 20 weeks of unemployment compensation, then the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program provides up to 53 weeks of compensation.

The Extended Benefits program provides up to 20 weeks of additional benefits.

According to federal law, Extended Benefit claimants in Missouri will not receive further payments after last week, regardless of their claim balance.

Long-term unemployed

Those who have been jobless for 27 weeks or more are considered long-term unemployed by the U.S. Department of Labor. In March, they numbered 5.3 million, accounting for 42.5 percent of those who were unemployed.

That's significantly higher than during the 1981-1982 recession when long-term unemployment never exceeded 25 percent.

The longer someone is unemployed, the more they are at risk of losing skills.

"They need to keep their skills fresh if they have specialized skills associated with their work," said Gilbert Hake, program administrator with the Missouri Division of Workforce Development. "In most cases they have years of experience to draw on and the circumstances of the economy has adversely affected them."

Those trying to get back into the labor force can find help at the Missouri Career Center. There are workshops and programs to help keep their skills up-to-date, he said.

Those affected by the ending of the Extended Benefit program are encouraged to continue to use the Missouri Career Center for job assistance, according to a news release from the Missouri Department of Labor.

For more information on the Extended Benefit program, visit www.moclaim.mo.gov and click on the Federal Benefits button.



Pertinent address:

1737 N. Kingshighway, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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